HMS Ocean to return to city for final time

HMS Ocean will say a fond farewell to Sunderland next month in an emotional six day visit.

The Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship will be alongside the Port of Sunderland from July 6-11 to pay tribute to its affiliated city. Ocean, which is set to be replaced by the brand new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, has a packed programme which will enable the people of Sunderland to return their appreciation before it leaves naval service in the spring of next year after 20 years in service.

A range of events aimed at putting both HMS Ocean and her company on show will include an evening reception and capability demonstration held on board for selected guests on Friday 7th, as well as a dedicated open day on Sunday 9 July from 11am to 6pm. Visitors wishing to see HMS Ocean and meet the ship’s crew are advised to use city centre parking and walk to the Low Street pedestrian entrance to the port.  

The centre piece of the weekend will take place on the Saturday when more than 240 officers and ratings from the Ship’s Company will exercise HMS Ocean’s freedom of the city by marching through the streets accompanied by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. Stepping off at 11.00 from Burdon Road  and passing the Mowbray Park Monument, the parade will culminate in a Mayoral civic reception.

A Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths event will be held on board on Monday 10th for local secondary school pupils with the aim of giving them an insight into engineering and the application of science in a maritime environment.  Sports will also feature heavily as part of the visit, with rugby and football fixtures arranged with local teams.

Commanding Officer, Captain Robert Pedre, said: “It is indeed a great honour to bring HMS Ocean to Sunderland.  The ship has maintained a long and close affiliation with the city of which we are justly proud; my Ship’s Company is very much looking forward to the visit and I hope as many local residents as possible are able to come to the docks and visit the Ship.

“This visit demonstrates the strength of HMS Ocean’s affiliation with the City of Sunderland, a visit to which the Ship’s Company is looking forward and an affiliation of which they are extremely proud.”

Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr Doris MacKnight said: “We are delighted to be welcoming HMS Ocean and her crew back to Sunderland, for the final time. The freedom parades are always a spectacular sight and I know people will once again be looking forward to seeing officers and crew parade through the city centre.

"By exercising the Freedom of the City, there's an opportunity for everybody to show their appreciation, show how proud Sunderland is of its links with the Royal Navy and say goodbye."

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Sunderland's Friendship Agreement with Washington DC makes us the only city in Europe to enjoy such a relationship with the world's most powerful city. Washington Old Hall is home to the direct ancestors of the first president of the United States of America.

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